Monday, February 21, 2011

How to make a call center schedule work for your staff

An optimized call center schedule becomes even better when your team is satisfied or even really happy with their assigned shifts. Of course, that is not an easy task, but here are some tips that might be of help for call center managers and supervisors:
  • Shift bidding: This can be done in different ways. You can either open up for bidding every 6 months, or you can facilitate bidding on a more regular basis and make it part of the scheduling process. This frequent bidding becomes easier when you use a web-based tool that allows agents and supervisor to collaborate on shift bidding and trading.
  • Shift trading: This can be done even without lots of administrative work. Agents can trade their shifts on a day-by-day basis, assuming it only happens a few times per month for each agent. Otherwise, it might get difficult to keep track of who is scheduled.
  • Flexible start- and end-times: Allow agents to come in later (an hour or two) or to work longer hours on certain days (based on the needs of the call center and based on their personal needs). However, this needs to get administered properly to make sure hours don't "get lost". In addition, as posted to this blog, there are other ways to provide more flexibility.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Motivation of call center agents, employees and workforce

Employee motivation is the most important and probably most challenging management task in a call center - and it has the biggest impact on the overall call center performance and success. There are no simple recipes or easy answers for this. Dependent on your industry, the size of your center, the culture of your company and the people in your company, you need to develop your own plan of action. Here are a few things to consider:
  • Practice clear communication: What do you expect from agents, how is performance measured, etc.
  • Include agents into problem solving: Share reports and metrics with employees and discuss issues/improvements
  • Recognition of employees: Publicly and individually recognize employees as a valued member of the organization
  • Make employees more knowledgeable: Develop your employees' skills through training and coaching
  • Build confidence: Provide necessary training and coaching, give feedback that helps them grow
  • Teams: Create teams that work "well" together
  • Good infrastructure: Make sure that office, chairs, headsets, and other infrastructure etc. are functional and provide a positive experience
  • Flexible schedules: Start- and end-time flexibility can be a win-win for the employees and the call center performance
  • Good resource planning: Accurate forecasting and scheduling helps reduce stress
  • Lead by example: Actions instead of words and mission statements
But how do you find out what's important for your call center? Just listen do your agents, ask specific questions, and listen again.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Workforce Management Software Comparison - Cloud versus Installed Software

The following section compares the cloud- based and the on premise software model in more detail and illustrates how the different models would impact the cost, implementation, usage and success of the Workforce Management solution in your organization:

Set up and implementation
Cloud: Fast set up, vendor creates new account. Users access the solution through a web browser.
On Premise: Takes time to purchase, install and configure both the hardware and software.

Upfront investment
Cloud: No upfront investment for software/hardware. Subscription fee typically includes support, maintenance and upgrades.
On Premise: Large upfront investment for hardware and software, installation, configuration and implementation.

Operating costs
Cloud: Shared services infrastructure dramatically reduces the cost for operating and maintaining servers.
On Premise: Running your own server operation, including back ups, maintenance, upgrades and hardware replacement result in higher costs.

Scalability and performance
Cloud: Multi-tenant architecture and "elastic cloud computing" platform allows for maximum scalability of data-intensive scheduling scenarios.
On Premise: The purchased/installed server(s) in your environment limit the scalability and performance of installed software.

Software upgrades
Cloud: Automated upgrade procedures ensure customer are always on the latest version without the need for manual upgrade procedures.
On Premise: Upgrading software is often postponed due to the vast effort and costs. New features to improve scheduling won’t get implemented.

Implementation success
Cloud: Vendors have a financial incentive to make customers successful, solve issues and maintain them as a long term customer.
On Premise: High upfront license fees might lower motivation for vendors to help make the solution work and solve your issues; software may not get fully utilized.

Cloud: The new web-based user interfaces of cloud-based solutions typically focus strongly on usability and are often easier to use and faster to learn.
On Premise: Traditionally, older client-server software was not optimized for usability, making it more difficult for the user to take advantage of the software features.

Investment risk
Cloud: Lower risk - if the customer is not satisfied with the solution they might be able to cancel the agreement or switch to another vendor.
On Premise: Higher risk through a huge upfront investment that "locks" customer in, even if the solution ends up not meeting the their needs.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tips for improved contact center agent scheduling

We have published several tips for more effective call center scheduling on this blog over the last year. We have summarized those tips in a short Call center scheduling whitepaper. If you didn't have the chance to download it, please do. You will learn about:
  • Shrinkage
  • Flexible shift-models
  • Schedule adherence
  • Multi-skilled agents
  • Activities to include into schedule
  • and more